Westlake Theatre’s crown jewels were talk of Foundation

| July 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

THE THEATER is proposed to be restored to its 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival glory.  Photo: Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

The morning of July 11, the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation (LAHTF) hosted “Coffee and Conversation” (online, of course). The subject was the Westlake Theatre, located on Alvarado St. at the edge of MacArthur Park.

LAHTF members Tiffany Mitsche, David Saffer, Mike Hume and Anthony Caldwell highlighted the crown jewels of the property that include murals by Anthony Heinsbergen and the original three-story steel frame that holds the neon sign on the roof of the building. The 1,950-seat theater was designed by Richard D. Bates, Jr. in 1926. Both vaudeville and movies were first presented here to an audience of nearly 2,000.

Like so many of our historic structures, it has metamorphized over the last 100 years. It was renovated by architect Charles Lee in 1935. During the ’60s and ’70s, Spanish language movies were featured. The interior later was adapted for retail use and even later became a swap meet.

The building and surrounding property were sold in 2018 to local real estate investor and developer Jamison Properties, which said at the time that it had plans to restore the theater to its former Spanish Colonial Revival glory.

How wonderful that the LAHTF members have persisted in protecting some of the most beautiful theaters in the country, right here in Los Angeles. For the foundation’s Zoom-cast, Windsor Square-Hancock Park Historical Society chairman Richard Battaglia had arranged for an invitation to be extended to Society members to tune in, which was well worth doing.

How miraculous it will be to see the seats in this structure occupied once again. Thanks to the advocacy of LAHTF and the courage of our front-line health workers, this just might happen.

And that’s the chat.

By Patty Hill


Category: Entertainment

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